Sunday, February 17, 2008

Mental Illness- Seeking Help! Pt. 2

Everyone once in awhile we receive a slap alongside the head to remind us that not treating mental illness can result in serious tragedies to many. While most are still focused on the availability of guns to those having mental illness, I have yet to hear anyone speculate on how one guarantees anyone's sanity even AFTER a legal gun purchase.

Only Clinton, Obama, & Edwards bothered to respond to a mental health candidate surveysby NAMI. McCain gave a policy statement & along with Romney stated that he doesn't respond to surveys. Well, excu-u-u-u-se me!

McCain stresses individual responsibility in his statement (think ownership society meaning it's YOUR problem) along with physical fitness & healthy lifestyles. Duh! New cure. At least he bothered to respond.

Author Danielle Steel's son suffered from bi-polar & comitted suicide. While she had long suspected a problem, he wasn't diagnosed until he had seen many doctors at age 16. He then killed himself at age 19. "... what you have to be [parents] is extremely loving, extremely resourceful and extremely persistent and every time you're defeated, just go at the problem again," Steel told Reuters in a rare interview.

Hospitalizing a mentally ill person who does not want to be, or even does, may often take some creativity. Firstly, know that police will NOT take them to a hospital for treatment unless the person is in" imminent danger." They must have injured themself or threatened suicide/homicide. That's it. They do NOT have to do this in front of the police. However, remember it must all be done in a relatively short timespan. Don't call & report what happened yesterday.

If you take them to a hospital the above applies OR they must sign an admission slip. You may ask for some private time for this document signature which will not be verified. Another suggestion is to offer the individual affected $ to comply. Butler Hospital is best if you have a choice.

If another person has been injured (no weapon), then it's off to the stationhouse & jail. No mental health assistance there, although they may be encouraged to take their meds (if they have them & are willing). You then will have the double problem of not only illness, but legal woes. But this may also result in incentive to get treatment & take meds. Generally this will be a misdemeanor charge. Sometimes there is no alternative.

If there is a weapon involved it will result in a felony. Either way- try to stay calm, don't threaten, be prepared beforehand & have a plan. Don't block their access & make sure you have one or a safe room with a phone & a lock. Dial 911. If they are off their meds, let that be known.

There will be jail time locally until the charged person is take before a judge. Find out when this is & be there. What you're opting for is a minimum of jail with the ultimate goal of treatment with compliance. Bail or personal recognizance release will likely be offered at this hearing in front of a judge. The charged must plead- "Not guilty" should be initially offered.

Work with the Prosecutor (from your town), & the Public Defender (free). Try to come up with a plan for release. Seek help for this. The person charged cannot return to the home of anyone they injured. The charged person will have to return for another hearing. If they don't comply, they will be back before the judge & any bail offered may be revoked/changed. Back to jail with another hearing set (usually 2 wks).

If they are admitted to a hospital & you are not a "guardian," it is difficult to get any information from anyone. Be aggressive & persisitent & creative, like the lady said. Don't let them release too early or threaten lawsuit for any resulting problems. Make sure there is an aggressive post-treatment plan in place. Try contacting NAMI or your local mental health care center (Newport County Mental Health) for advice at anytime. Otherwise, zilch will be offered/done. Write everything down & let everyone see that you are doing this.

Guardianship requires a lawyer & money & time. You also need a Dr. to fill out a 5 page form. A psychlogist will NOT due. You will need to pay for this ($550). The rest of the guardianship fees may be up to $5000. As part of this you the Court will appoint another lawyer to represent the individual's best interests. This is a charge. The reason you may want to do this is to legally gain some control over a non-complaint person. It is the same process with the same rights as filing for an aging parent. Simple it is NOT. But ultimately often necessary

"When people aren't medicated it can be lethal," she said, adding that she hadn't realized that when dealing with her own son. "I thought it could ruin his life. I really didn't understand how high the possibility was that it could cost him his life." Steel ... believes the laws need to be changed to allow mentally ill people to be hospitalized against their will.
"Usually bipolars present extremely well and they can bounce into court ... look very together and be a complete mess three hours later on the streets somewhere," she said. "There's nothing you can do."

"[tragedies such as those of Britney Spears] illustrate the drama and dilemma of the family of mentally ill people in this country -- it's a very, very tough thing."She said all this while speaking at the foundation she founded in her son's memory- the Nick Traina Foundation. Suicide is the second leading cause of death of young people under the age of 25.

Amen, sister.

People with untreated mental illness can be dangerous. They need to be treated whether they recognize their illness or not. Many are incapable of recognizing that they are indeed ill due to the nature of their sickness which effects this part of the brain. It's a Catch-22. If you knew you were sick you would get help. But you don't know that you are sick. Indeed, you may never acknowledge this fact. Why? Because the brain isn't working as it should.

Medical compliance is the most significant determiner of sucess in combating mental illness. It's also the biggest problem. No compliance= return of debilitating symtoms= hospital (if lucky) or jail. It's that simple.

Sufferers of mental illness need a psychiatrist first. Ask your physician or others for a recommendation. You can also go through your mental health center, but there will be a long list & appointments won't be soon. You first will have to go through an intake counsellor- another appointment, before you can get a team assessment. This is not a quick process. Medical insurance is a real plus.

The Presidental candidates have all commented on the newest college incident regarding gun laws. Not one has mentioned the possibility of an underlying cause- mental illness care (or non-care). The shooter, a young man, was no stranger to meds, treatment, etc. College-age students are at prime risk for a number of serious mental illnesses as stress is often a precipitating factor. Since many are not at home with family when this occurs, colleges need to be offering more services. So what are they doing about it? Not enough and their concentration is often depression. But then neither are we as a broader society bringing much to the dialog.

Next part- solutions.

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